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The role of microbial agents in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease

Huda-Faujan, Nura,e; Mustafa, Shuhaimib; Abdul Manaf, Mohd Yazidc; Yee, Loong Yikd; Abu Bakar, Fatimahe

Reviews in Medical Microbiology: July 2007 - Volume 18 - Issue 3 - p 47–53
doi: 10.1097/MRM.0b013e3282f16e0c
Original articles

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a generic term that refers to Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. The precise aetiology of these diseases remains unknown. However, both are believed to result from the interaction of environmental factors, immune response and genetic factors. The impact of environmental factors such as smoking, diet, drug, geographical and social status, stress, microbial agents, intestinal permeability and appendectomy appear to be associated with IBD pathogenesis. Some varieties of these factors modify gene expression in susceptible individuals and modulate the effector function of the intestinal immune system. To understand the IBD pathogenesis, several studies have reported that luminal bacteria play an essential role in development of IBDs. Various bacterial pathogens have been incriminated but the results obtained have been conflicting. No specific pathogen has been identified as being causally associated with IBD. However, it is widely thought that, in IBD cases, individuals appear to lose the normal tolerance to commensal bacteria leading to an elevated inflammatory response. By contrast to healthy gut, the symbiotic relationship between the host and the commensal bacteria exposure leads to the down-regulation of inflammatory genes. Therefore, this brief review focuses on the microbial aetiology of IBD.

From the aFood Biotechnology Programme, Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Bandar Baru Nilai, Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

bMicrobiology Department, Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences

cFood Service and Management Department, Faculty of Food Science and Technology

dMedicine Department, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

eFood Science Department, Faculty of Food Science and Technology, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia.

Received 24 July, 2007

Revised 29 July, 2007

Accepted 9 August, 2007

Correspondence to Fatimah Abu Bakar, Food Science Department, Faculty of Food Science and Technology, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia. Tel: +60 3 8946 8375; fax: +60 3 8942 3552; e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.